Monday, October 08, 2018

Shawn Joseph has got to go!

About as soon as Shawn Joseph was hired as Director of Metro Schools I started thinking he was the wrong person for the job. I don't recall the early specifics but over time more and more issues came to light that made be more certain that he was not doing a good job. For one thing, and the most obvious, is that our schools are getting worse. This was born out by declining enrollment and falling test scores. As Nashville's population is growing school enrollment was shrinking.  Maybe that is a function of the demographics. Maybe, it is only childless couples and single people moving to Davidson County but I doubt it.  I suspect that couples with school age children are moving to surrounding districts or sending their kids to private schools. Simply from anecdotal reports and opinions of average people, I concluded there was something terribly wrong with Metro Schools.  When a company or institutions is failing, the first place to look is at the top.  Maybe, it is time for new leadership.

Recently three school board members, Fran Bush, Amy Frogge and Jill Speering, wrote an opinion piece in The Tennessean and laid out a long list of particulars as to why Leadership change is needed at MNPS.  Some of this I had observed and knew; some was new to me. Here is a summary of the reasons these school board members say it is time for a change:

  • The number of Nashville’s priority schools (those in the bottom 5 percent of the state) has more than doubled under Director of Schools Shawn Joseph’s watch, making Nashville the district with the greatest number of priority schools in the State.
  • Proficiency levels in nearly every MNPS high school have dropped.
  • Only about a quarter of MNPS students read proficiently on grade level.
  • Director Joseph is paid substantially more than any other superintendent in the state and yet employee morale is at an all-time low, and the district suffers a chronic teacher shortage.
  • Cronyism abounds.
  • The director insists on using a bus driver as a chauffeur, even though no previous MNPS director has required a personal drive and this had a time when there is chronic shortage of school bus drivers leading to long commute times and wait times for students.
  • He has cut effective reading programs.
  • He is forcing highly skills teachers to teach from cookie-cutter lesson plans.
  • He has attempted to ban school staff from talking to school board members. 
  • Sexual harassment lawsuits and claims of inappropriate behavior by district employees and leaders continue to arise and the Director attempts to sweep these concerns under the rug and minimize them. 
  • The Director has apparently broken stat law by failing to report teacher misconduct to the state.
I would add to the list these:
  • He has cut "Legacy positions" include things such as  world language, Suzuki Strings, STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math), advanced academics, International Baccalaureate and overall enhanced staffing. These are programs that attract parents who want a better education for their child. Cutting these programs drives away the best students. Also, by losing these better students we lose the funding they bring to the schools system from the state.
  • He does not share our "Nashville values."  He played a snippet of a  rap song to the school board members at a school board meeting as an example of songs that provide him with inspirations with the going gets tough. The song contained the words "bitch," "Nigger," and "fuck," and praises pimping and taking a hit off of blunt, and getting locked up and says that "real hoes still know they gots to fuck." (link)
It is time for Dr. Shawn Joseph to resign or be fired. We need new leadership at Metro Schools. 

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